I really enjoyed this film, and I had a feeling I would because I like silent films and black and white movies. I spent most of my high school years watching old movies and really appreciating them. It has been awhile since I’ve seen a black and white film let alone a silent one. I am glad I caught some of the references, there were definitely allusions to Singing in the Rain, Astaire/Rogers, Charlie Chaplin, Errol Flynn, Greta Garbo and much more. I liked the music and the cinematography, but with any silent film, the star is key. Jean Dujardin was perfectly cast; he looks like a silent film star: his face is expressive, debonair, and he has great comic timing.
I did have a small issue with the actress playing Peppy Miller if only because Bérénice Bejo does not look like the kind of girl who would have been famous in that era. There is a distinct look to women of that era either being cherubic and cute (Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford), mysterious vixen (Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks) or just plain arresting and distinctive (Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis). I know a lot of people disagree with me on this, but there was something about her that didn’t fit that era. It took me out of the film at times. Maybe it’s because I am so use to watching movies from that era. She was good though, and I think she has expressive eyes. Also the woman who plays Valentin’s wife looked older than him and I checked that is she almost ten years older. I’m not sure what that was suppose to mean if anything. I really liked the other cast such as the adorable Jack Russell that they used. I like how it humanized George’s ego in awhile too. Same with James Cromwell playing Clifton the chauffeur/valet who clearly cared about George.
The romance aspect of this movie was sweet, but I really think most of the film was about George’s journey and the film’s role as a homage to that era of movies more so than the romantic aspect. I really recommend this film because I think it could introduce people to silent and older films. It’s a good film fullstop and very entertaining and touching.
I wrote the above review before watching the Oscars, but I’m really glad the film won, especially for duJardin and direction.
Watched 23 February 2012.